First Air changes CEO in merger with Canadian North

October 02, 2018
Written by Wings Staff
Following an agreement on September 28 to move forward with the merger of First Air and Canadian North airlines, the board of directors of parent company Makivik Corporation announced a change of leadership. The move replaces Brock Friesen who served as president and CEO of First Air for the past five years.

“I'm pleased to support these changes at First Air,” stated Makivik president Charlie Watt. “Friday [September 28] was an historic day for Inuit and Inuvialuit as we signed an agreement to merge the two airlines by the end of the year. We are embarking in a new era of northern aviation, and we would like to thank Brock Friesen for his five years of service to First Air as president and CEO."

Chris Avery has been appointed as the new president and CEO of First Air. He was formerly the vice president of customer and commercial operations at the airline. Avery joined First Air in 2017 and, explains Makivik, has taken on progressively more senior positions in his 25 years of aviation and travel industry experience, including senior management positions at WestJet, Alaska Airlines, Canadian Airlines International and Transat Holidays.

As well, Johnny Adams is to take on a greater role in the airline as executive chairman, expanding his role as the current chairman of the First Air board. Adams has a long history of public and private executive service in the Nunavik region and beyond, explains Makivik, as well as extensive business experience as an entrepreneur.

Adams has served on the First Air board of directors for more than 10 years and since June 2017 has been the chairman of the First Air board. “With our new planned partnership with Inuvialuit Corporate Group, we are focusing on cooperative relationships with our new partners and on the customers and communities we currently serve as well as on strategic opportunities on the horizon,” said Watt. “We have great confidence in Mr. Avery’s abilities to deliver on this new direction.”

Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.

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